Google Pixel Fold Review: I’m Sold on Foldable Phones.. If Only They Didn’t Cost So Much!

I recently had the opportunity to review the new Google Pixel Fold smartphone, and I must say, it’s an intriguing piece of technology. This is the first foldable device I’ve tested and I really like what Google has put together here. The downside is that it costs a ridiculous $1799. See my full review here and you can find the phone for sale at Best Buy here (compensated affiliate link).

The Pixel Fold is powered by Google’s tensor G2 processor, the same chip that can be found in their more traditional phones like the entry-level Pixel 7A. It boasts 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. There is no SD card slot for storage expansion unfortunately.

The displays are impressive. The front display is a 5.8-inch OLED, while the inside reveals a 7.6-inch OLED. Both displays offer a 120 hertz refresh rate, ensuring a smooth user experience.

One thing that stood out to me was the phone’s compactness. I am a “small phone” guy and prefer a more compact device that’s easily pocketable to a larger one. The Fold fits comfortably in my pocket, and when unfolded, it offers a larger display, which is great for browsing and multitasking. It’s close in size to an iPad mini or other 8 inch tablet. Unfortunately, there’s a visible crease down the middle of the screen, which some might find distracting. I noticed it, and while many say you get used to it, I found it constantly catching my eye.

The Pixel Fold’s dual-display design offers a unique opportunity for app developers to enhance the user experience. Some apps have been optimized to recognize the device’s foldable nature and adjust their interface accordingly. For instance, the YouTube app adjusts the video playback area when the phone is partially folded, nudging the content to fit perfectly above the fold, essentially turning the bottom half into a stand. Similarly, productivity apps like Google Docs and Photos can run side by side, allowing users to drag and drop content between them.

However, not all apps have been optimized for this dual-display setup, and some might require manual adjustments to fully utilize the available screen real estate.Like other Android tablets and phones, most apps can run split screen even if they’re not optimized for larger screens.

The camera system is versatile. The back of the phone houses three cameras: an ultra-wide, a telephoto, and a standard 48-megapixel lens. The photos I took were sharp, detailed, and the colors were vibrant. There are two front facing cameras, one for when the phone is folded and another when unfolded. The folded selfie cam is the better of the two. Google also has a neat mode that turns the rear camera system into a selfie cam.

Gaming on the Pixel Fold was fun. From Android games to retro gaming, the experience was smooth. The larger screen real estate made gameplay more immersive. However, when compared to devices like the iPhone, the Pixel Fold’s gaming performance could be better.

In conclusion, the Pixel Fold is a promising device. Its foldable design offers a unique user experience, and while there are some areas of improvement, it’s a solid first-generation attempt by Google. The price might be a deterrent for some, but if you’re looking for innovation and a fresh take on smartphones, the Pixel Fold is worth considering.

I hope the industry finds some ways to bring the price point on these foldables down to make the technology more accessible. Smartphones have become quite stale these last few years so anything new and exciting would be a welcome boost to the industry.

Disclosure: Google provided the phone free of charge for my review. However they did not review or approve the content before it was uploaded nor did they offer any additional compensation.

Google’s Pixel Tablet is a Great Android Experience

My latest video takes a look at the new Google Pixel tablet. Unique to this product is the included speaker charging dock that turns it into a Google / Nest Home assistant when the tablet is attached.

The tablet comes in three different color options and sells for $499 for the 128GB storage variant with a 256GB version available for $100 more. All models come with the speaker dock so there is not a tablet only SKU available at the moment.

The tablet’s 11-inch display, while not OLED, offers a very crisp image with a decent contrast ratio. It comes in at a resolution of 2560 by 1600 which translates out to a 16:10 aspect ratio. This makes it a little wider and narrower vs. an iPad display. It’s adequately bright at 500 nits.

The tablet is powered by the Google Tensor G2 chip, the same chip found in Pixel 7 phones, and comes with 8GB of DDR5 RAM. This combination ensures a responsive performance for various tasks and applications. It’s also great for Android games and emulators as detailed in the video. The interface feels just as polished as Google’s Pixel Phones do.

The Pixel Tablet supports USI 2.0 stylus pens, which can be used for note-taking or sketching. It also offers a multi-user feature, allowing different users to have their own profiles and experiences on the tablet. In the video I demo’ed the kid interface that is easier for children to navigate and gives parents more control over what they can do on the device.

But there are some limitations. It lacks a headphone jack and only has a USB-C port, meaning users will need to use Bluetooth headphones or connect a dongle. It also lacks an SD card slot for expanding its onboard storage. Additionally, Google’s commitment to only three years of OS updates (from 2023) and five years of security updates means that they’re not all that committed to this platform. Apple supports even its entry level iPads for longer.

All in the new Pixel tablet is the nicest Android tablet I have tested to date. I would have preferred Google offer a version without the speaker dock at a lower price for those that just need a tablet.

Things of Note from Google I/O 2022

I attended a Google event in New York city to watch the Google I/O keynote. Here are the things I found most of interest:

Pixel 6a

Google will be releasing a new low cost phone this summer called the Pixel 6a. The new 6a, like the prior models, incorporates many of the features of their flagship phones. This one will get the same Google Tensor processor as their flagship Pixel 6 phones along with what will likely be a great display and camera system. It’ll sell unlocked for $449 in July. If you like pure Android phones but don’t want to spend more than $500 I think this will be a winner.

Oddly they also announced a Pixel 7 phone even though we’re only a few months into the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. The new phone will have a second generation Tensor processor.

You can see all of my prior Pixel device reviews here.

Pixel Watch

Google also announced the much rumored Pixel Watch that will launch around the same time as the Pixel 7. It’s a sleek Wear OS device designed to pair up with Android powered smartphones.

I’ve always found smartwatches to be big and clunky – and that includes my beloved Apple Watch which has largely followed the same design as the original from 2015. The Pixel Watch looks like a real improvement in overall smartwatch industrial design. It might very well be the nicest looking consumer product I’ve seen Google put together. I’m eager to see how this performs and looks in person.

Pixel Tablet

After abandoning Android tablet devices a few years ago, Google is getting back in the game. This includes releasing a new Pixel Tablet and also redesigning their core Android apps to work better on tablet devices. Those tablet app updates are apparently rolling out at the time of this writing. The Pixel tablet, however will not be released until sometime in 2023. It’ll be powered by Google’s Tensor chip.

Google Glass is Back?

The last thing that intrigued some of my fellow watch party attendees are these new translation glasses that were teased at the end of the presentation. The glasses will project a translation from a speaker into the lens for the wearer to read.

No doubt this is something that was iterated from the ill-fated Google Glass project from a decade ago. This use case seems to make a lot more sense. And these actually look like glasses! See my original coverage of the Google Glass here.

Google also had a bunch of other software feature announcements including continued work on their AI systems which are getting better and better each year. They will soon release an app called the “AI Test Kitchen” that will demonstrate the progress they have made with natural language interaction. It’s really fascinating stuff.

Hopefully we’ll get some of these things in for review!